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Sussex to share in £39m funding for energy efficiency research

Energy researchers at the University of Sussex have been awarded a share of £39m in funding for research into cutting carbon use and greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

The funding, announced this week (w/c Monday 12 November) by the Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, represents one of the biggest investments to date by the UK’s research councils into energy efficiency.

Dr Steve Sorrell, a member of the University’s Sussex Energy Group, will head the Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, one of only five new research centres on End Use Energy Demand (EUED) jointly funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme (RCUK).

The Sussex Centre involves an interdisciplinary team of social science researchers from the Sussex Energy Group, the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester and the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford.

The Centre aims to use a range of techniques to examine how ‘low energy innovations’ develop and diffuse, how they can be encouraged and what impact they are likely to have on UK energy demand and carbon emissions.

The Centre defines ‘low-energy innovations’ as new technologies, organisational arrangements and behaviours that improve energy efficiency and/or reduce energy demand – such as energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicles and real-time feedback on energy consumption.

Dr Sorrell says: “Such innovations are frequently beneficial for the economy, security and the environment and they will be essential in avoiding dangerous climate change. But they often struggle to become established. We want to understand why and to provide results that can help accelerate the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.”

The University of Sussex is also involved in one other of the five centres – DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand Centre. The DEMAND Centre, led by Lancaster University, will focus on how energy demand is made and met, and will look at how infrastructures, buildings and transport systems can be reconfigured to better meet greenhouse gas emissions targets. The Sussex contribution will be led by Dr Jan Selby (International Relations).

Mr Barker, announcing the funding in London on Monday, said: “We have now put energy efficiency at the very heart of the Government’s energy policy. Using energy more wisely is absolutely vital in a world of increased pressure on resources and rising prices. Not only can energy efficiency help save money on bills and cut emissions, it can support green jobs, innovation and enterprise.

“The five new End Use Energy Demand centres will play an important role in improving our understanding of how energy is used across the nation, helping us learn more about what needs to be done to change consumer and business behaviour.  I wish these centres every success and look forward to seeing the results.”

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “We had a tremendous response from the academic community to this call. In all 38 proposals were submitted and many displayed unique approaches. The five centres chosen were considered to have best demonstrated that they could develop internationally leading research and apply it to help meet the Government’s 2050 challenges.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: “I believe the interdisciplinary nature of these centres will help us to better understand the challenges faced to meet our future energy needs. The centres must work together to ensure that the full potential impact of their programmes is realised. They will engage with the public, interact with users and promote synergies between the research projects which the ESRC fully supports.”

The other three centres will focus on ‘Energy epidemiology’, which will synthesise data to help governments plan investment in energy efficiency and security; Food, which will look at innovative ways to reduce energy consumption in food production; and the Indemand Centre, which will focus on reducing the use of both energy and energy intensive materials in industry.

Notes for Editors

The Sussex Energy Group (SEG) undertakes academically rigorous, inter-disciplinary research that engages with policy-makers and practitioners. The aim of its research is to identify ways of achieving the transition to sustainable, low carbon energy systems whilst addressing other important policy objectives such as energy security. SEG is part of SPRU – Science Technology Policy and Research, a University of Sussex research centre, which concentrates on policy research and innovation in science and industry.

For more information about the funding award, contact Richard Tibenham at the EPSRC Press Office, tel: 01793 444 404, e-mail:

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2012

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